This is probably the topic where I get the most questions about, so I wanted to add a few additional notes on clothing to bring. As usual, it will be in bullet points, because I’m too lazy to write coherent paragraphs:
- Appearance matters when you travel, particularly to Asia. You will immediately notice how dressy Thais are, even when just running errands or going to the store. They are dressed nicely, have their hair just so, and even have make-up on even if they are only working around the house. So please plan on being presentable.
- You will have access to laundry services, but not every day. We will have designated laundry days when we can launder everything in bulk. These are included in the fee. If you require laundry between these designated laundry days, you will have to pay out of pocket, but it is very inexpensive. The frequency of laundry days will vary depending on the itinerary. For example, we won’t have opportunity for laundry the 4-5 days we are at the second village.
- The laundry service isn’t going to take special requests (delicate, starch, ironing, etc.) so bring clothes that you don’t mind being laundered in bulk.
- You can also buy a little laundry soap, a rubber stop for the hotel sink, and launder your own clothing.
- Bring versatile clothing. In fact, for traveling light, this should be a rule for everything you bring. Some travelers won’t bring something that is only single-use. You don’t have to be that hardcore, but for clothing, this is a good rule of thumb. Bring clothing that can do double (or triple) duty. For example, bring shirts that you can work in, but can also be “dressed up” for a nice dinner in town. For men, short sleeve button down shirts and polo shirts can be used in both situation. Nicer t shirts with no (or subdued) graphics can also work both ways. For women, nicer t shirts and blouses can do the same thing. Skirts and dresses for women are particularly versatile and cool. Make sure the ones for the school are on the longer side.
- You can use accessories to “dress up” outfits. Shawls, scarves, and Pashimas are great for this; they can be worn sarong-style, over the shoulders to dress things up, or as an insulating layer if it gets cool. Belts, hats, jewelry (keep the expensive stuff at home), and even small handbags also work well.
- The second village will get cool in the evenings. Make sure you pack some light sweatshirts or fleece, as well as long sleeve shirts and pants. Think layers.
- Raingear is nice to have. We are in Thailand at the tail end of the hot season and the beginning of the monsoon season, so we will get some rain. In a pinch, we can get ponchos there, which aren’t as breathable, but do the job. If you bring something, leave the expensive $500 technical Goretex shell at home; it’s overkill. Just bring an inexpensive lightweight waterproof shell.
- Color matters when traveling. Light colors tend to show off dirt. Plus, you want versatility. So avoid whites and light colors and pick a simple color palette, so you can mix and match outfits.
- Pick light fabrics. They’re cooler, breathe, dry faster, and pack lighter.
Any comments? Particularly from May Term Thailand alums? Please chime in!